RE: Lotus Elan M100: Spotted

RE: Lotus Elan M100: Spotted

Wednesday 11th July

Lotus Elan M100: Spotted

As early Elises become more desirable almost by the day, how does a £6k Elan turbo sound?



It won't have escaped your attention that many if not most nineties performance car heroes are now bonafide, big buck classics. For those who grew up fantasising about such cars, that's rather a shame. It's everywhere, too: the cheap M3 or M5 is a dream of yesteryear, that £17k Ferrari 456 (however mad the decision to buy it was) seems a lifetime ago and even the humble hot hatch can now command serious money. Bargains are now noticeable by their scarcity.

So a lightweight and fast sports car with a legendary badge on its nose should be worth a mint, right? Well, no, actually. Because as this Elan proves, Lotus's foray into front-wheel drive can still be picked up relatively cheaply. If a Nova can be worth more than £15k and a Sierra the best part of a hundred thousand pounds, then what's keeping the little Elan pegged at well under £10k?


An assortment of reasons, to be brutally honest, though some are more understandable than others. There's no denying that front-wheel drive won't have helped the Elan's cause. Lotus hadn't dabbled in it before, and hasn't returned to it since, which probably says a lot. Some purists will dismiss it immediately on that score, regardless of what else might be opined on the little Lotus. Using a turbocharged Isuzu engine, when the Elan's fabled predecessor rasped along with its fizzy twin-cam, probably convinced the hardcore Lotusisti that the M100 was the work of the devil.

For others, the fact that the Elan was replaced by the sublime Elise will be too much to ignore. Mid-engined, rear-drive and naturally-aspirated, the latter became the defining Lotus of the era, and deservedly so. Let's also not forget the arrival and accessibility of the Mazda MX-5 either, and its shameless reimagining of the Brit sports car formula.


The case is strong against it, then. But the much maligned M100 can also be considered another way: here is a sub-1,000kg, 165hp sports car which, despite its front-wheel drive, is still quicker to 60mph than an Abarth 124. Here's a Lotus sports car, moreover, that received praise for its dynamics on launch, for its unflappable poise and uncanny ability to carry speed. How often do you hear that as a compliment now in a contemporary hot hatch? In addition, while this is an entirely subjective point, the low, wide, squat and compact Elan looks to be ageing pretty well aesthetically. Don't forget this was a car launched in 1989, the same year as the Ford Fiesta Mk3 (so yes, it's 30 in 2019); considered like that it looks remarkably fresh.

This 1995 Elan Turbo is for sale at a Lotus dealer, albeit as a p/x to clear and with "perfect light summer project" in the description. Despite that, it's hard not to be encouraged by three owners (the last for eight years), 14 service stamps (with subsequent receipts for home maintenance kits) plus a cambelt five thousand miles ago (and a relatively low overall mileage of 70,000). British Racing Green always looks good on a Lotus too, doesn't it? Obviously a car listed overtly stating that work is required should be approached with caution, though it's hard to see any sports car now in its third decade not requiring some sort of tinkering.


The best bit? This very smart looking Elan is for sale at £6,750. In the current classic car market, when an Elise with similar mileage is £15k and even an MX-5 can justify more than £10,000, that looks enticing value - even with the work that needs to be done. For those even more committed to the cause, this Cat C version is just £5,750.

The front-wheel drive Elan is never quite going to match the Elise for dynamic finesse, whatever the price difference, though its array of talents surely deserves greater recognition that it currently attracts. Well, we reckon so, at least - what about you?


SPECIFICATION - LOTUS ELAN M100
Engine:
1,588cc, 4-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 165@6,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 148@4,200rpm
MPG: 42.2
CO2: N/A
Year registered: 1995
Recorded mileage: 70,000
Price new: £19,850
Yours for: £6,750

See the original advert here

Author
Discussion

hondansx

Original Poster:

3,143 posts

156 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
It isn't a case of this car being value, it's just that a lot of other cars are over valued. This is not a time to be spending money on a car as an 'investment' - a correction is around the corner. If you have money burning a hole, you'll be able to get a lot more car for your money next year.

rockin

5,564 posts

176 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
hondansx said:
This is not a time to be spending money on a car as an 'investment' - a correction is around the corner, you'll be able to get a lot more car for your money next year.
What's your prediction for the football this evening?

Strugs

401 posts

160 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
rockin said:
hondansx said:
This is not a time to be spending money on a car as an 'investment' - a correction is around the corner, you'll be able to get a lot more car for your money next year.
What's your prediction for the football this evening?
biglaugh

Strugs

401 posts

160 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Soft spot for these, and an itch I've nearly scratched a couple of times. Would love to have a drive of one, even if I'm never likely to buy one now, even at their current prices..

Lost count of the number of times I read the CAR group test of the Elan, the MX-5, TVR S2 and the BMW Z1 back in 1990. I seem to recall the Elan missing out on the top spot to the MX-5 (and the TVR? Need to find my old copy!) and being criticised for being almost too capable..

If I was to ever have a barn I could fill with cars, one of these would be in it..

GT03ROB

6,297 posts

152 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Strugs said:
If I was to ever have a barn I could fill with cars, one of these would be in it..
There's one in mine, been there for 26years....

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Cold

4,562 posts

21 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Seems cheap for an S2, or at least inexpensive.

PistonBroker

1,462 posts

157 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Saw an M100 for the first time in a long time on my walk back from the office the other day. Not so good looking in Red - one in need of a polish at that - but still made my head turn. Elderly couple - I like to think bought new and kept ever since.

Iirc they were praised as one of the best handling FWD cars about - though I seem to recall 309 GTi, Corrado VR6 and ITR got those accolades in the 90s too.

It's quite the leftfield choice and one I doubt would impress Mrs PB, despite her love of BRG. But it looks like fun to me.

Strugs

401 posts

160 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
GT03ROB said:
Strugs said:
If I was to ever have a barn I could fill with cars, one of these would be in it..
There's one in mine, been there for 26years....
Hopefully it leaves the barn occasionally? driving

GT03ROB

6,297 posts

152 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Strugs said:
GT03ROB said:
Strugs said:
If I was to ever have a barn I could fill with cars, one of these would be in it..
There's one in mine, been there for 26years....
Hopefully it leaves the barn occasionally? driving
....it's only done about 21k.... so no not often....paperbag

rtz62

1,433 posts

86 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Bizarre as it seems, there was a re-run of Top Gear on 'Dave' yesterday, the one with the Lotus, a TVR 2.8 and a Jensen Healey.
Hamster seemed to take a little delight in the leaks around the hood iirc.
I must say, I would buy this (after a proper inspection), and as a previous post suggested, too many cars are overpriced and are, or will, start to fall in price in my opinion.
When an S1 Elise is getting expensive, this seems to make a refreshing and potentially cheap change.
And England to win 2-1, in answer to a previous question!!!!!

sideways man

510 posts

68 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
I posted one of these as the answer to the thread ‘cheap fwd track car’. Seems p/h have pinched my idea...

I still wouldn’t get one, my baby elan s4 holds too many fine memories.

s m

16,527 posts

134 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Strugs said:
Lost count of the number of times I read the CAR group test of the Elan, the MX-5, TVR S2 and the BMW Z1 back in 1990. I seem to recall the Elan missing out on the top spot to the MX-5 (and the TVR? Need to find my old copy!) and being criticised for being almost too capable..

I've read the 'Point to Point' one a few times - CAR mag from 1992 with the Integrale and Carrera 4 plus an Elan SE

PhilboSE

1,452 posts

157 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
The writeup strays a little into the urban mythology about the car. In actual fact the FWD handling was hailed as a revelation at the time, and the Isuzu engine and gearbox come from the era of over-engineered Japanese tech where you could reliably double the power on these units with zero internal changes.

The hoods all leak, ALL of them, and the interior is very much of its era, but it should be noted that this is a differentera to the Elise, not the same one. The car arrived at just the wrong time with a financial downturn, and the arrival of the cheaper MX5 with its simpler combination sealed the M100 fate in terms of commercial success for Lotus, who pretty much abandoned it after launch and only released the second wave of S2 cars when new owners found enough bits in the factory to make and sell the second generation.

With a composite body and an unburstable drivetrain the only thing to look out for is to make sure chassis has had decent corrosion protection. Many many owners have fitted replacement ECUs and upgraded braking systems, both of which are generally good things to have unless you crave originality. Prices of good ones have been stable for years, so do some basic research and buy wisely and you could have good, cheap summer motoring.

They are very much better on road than on track, however.

Jon_S_Rally

90 posts

19 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
I remember my dad bringing one of these home when they were basically brand new. He worked for Lotus and was going somewhere in it for work. Felt like the coolest kid in the world so I look back on these with some fondness.

markh450

69 posts

142 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
hondansx said:
It isn't a case of this car being value, it's just that a lot of other cars are over valued. This is not a time to be spending money on a car as an 'investment' - a correction is around the corner. If you have money burning a hole, you'll be able to get a lot more car for your money next year.
Probably not the right thread for this but as you started it! I think you are correct..

No one has a crystal ball.... but it's hard to argue against the logic when looking at current prices.

Simply speaking classic cars are now being treated as an 'investable' commodity in a way not seen since the late 80's (look what happened in the early 90's to the prices, i.e XJ220). When you look at the massive rate of growth in prices, logically this growth rate cannot increase forever and rarely in commodity terms do such steep growth rates end in a gradual and steady level.

Why are people investing? lots of reasons but. low interest rates, 0% capital gains tax, and as the advert on the front of the independent shows, investing in classic cars is now seen as more 'accepted' fair amongst fund managers. This is great for 'blue chip' big money cash investments, F40's, F1's, Porsche RS's et al.

But further down the line I imagine there are a lot of people who have borrowed to buy such 90's classic cars, as these are 'better than money in the bank', a 'great investment' etc etc. either directly with loans or indirectly by using money that would have otherwise been used to pay of some of the mortgage (i.e what's the point paying a sum off the mortgage when the interest rate is only 1.9%?).

That's all great but WHEN (not if) interest rates go up, probably this August. A few start to sell to either avoid paying the higher rates or repay part of that mortgage which is now that bit more expensive. It only takes a few on the market at the same time to see a small price decrease which then prompts others to think about selling their 'investments' before the price drops further. Typical market sell off position.

For those real enthusiasts it means the cars we like are a bit less money. Personally even though I stand to lose I'd much prefer the market to cool as classic or older cars should be there to be enjoyed firstly any financial gain should be a bonus.

As I said before I also do not have a functioning crystal ball! so this could all be completely incorrect. However I think this is strongly the most likely position, I do know many in the industry privately agree.

Nickp82

1,087 posts

24 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Always fancied an Elan, if anyone remembers a game called 'Lotus Challenge' on the Commodore Amiga, this was partly why.

As the piece states, time has been kind to the styling and it still looks smart to my eyes.

ewant81

21 posts

36 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
PhilboSE said:
They are very much better on road than on track, however.
I have been tempted to buy one of these as a cheap track car, but it sounds like you have some experience?

Any reasons why not to buy one of these as a track toy?

spikyone

200 posts

31 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Nickp82 said:
Always fancied an Elan, if anyone remembers a game called 'Lotus Challenge' on the Commodore Amiga, this was partly why.

As the piece states, time has been kind to the styling and it still looks smart to my eyes.
Lotus Challenge 2 (and 3) actually. The first one only had the Esprit - and if you won the hardest race series you got a code that you could send off to get free stuff from the developers. I spent many a happy hour playing all three and still remember the title music and the F1-alike AI driver names - Ayrton Sendup! biggrin

Back on topic, I've grown to really like these as well. The S1 Elise made their proportions appear a bit flabby, but everything else on the road growing in girth in recent years has been very kind to them. Plus - pop-up headlights for extra sports car brownie points.

J4CKO

24,535 posts

131 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
Always fancied one, until I worked with a guy who had one and spent most of his weekends chasing leaks and random electrical problems, it was largely stripped out inside, not for weight, just part of his fault-finding activities, he did say he loved it though.

PhilboSE

1,452 posts

157 months

Wednesday 11th July
quotequote all
ewant81 said:
PhilboSE said:
They are very much better on road than on track, however.
I have been tempted to buy one of these as a cheap track car, but it sounds like you have some experience?

Any reasons why not to buy one of these as a track toy?
Yes, I owned one for 14 years and was one of the first to start modifying it. I did quite a few track days and it was really too underpowered, underbraked and soft to really be entertaining. Over a period of time I added a bigger turbo (& injectors & ECU), new brakes, new suspension, Quaife LSD, stronger clutch & lighter flywheel...lots of money spent and the car was a bit faster on track but they're pretty over-tyred and just not that much fun.

Do not go out on track with one of these on standard (front) brakes. They are barely up to stopping the car on the road, on track they just can't take the heat. But lots of replacement options exist now, at reasonable prices. I would recommend any of them over the original sliding calipers.